State of Nature in the West Village

-By Eric Uhlfelder

 

We live in an age of contradiction, a time of great invention and darkness. We see de-cency regularly challenged without regard of consequence. We see and hear truth turned on its head, extremism increasingly main-streamed, absurdity replacing thoughtful dis-course. The other day when I walked out on my Jane Street stoop, instead of seeing the monthly copy of my beloved WestView News, I found a doppelganger — a “New” WestView News. What did George do, I wondered. Then on the front page, I got the answer. George’s former associate assembled people from the paper’s editorial staff to create this look alike.

But why such imitation?

Certainly anyone has the right to start up a newspaper. But it should be an original name and design, not a copy of a publication that has regularly graced our community for two decades. My first thought: Is there an issue of copy-right? Is WestView News failing, as the article suggested? I had just been to George’s house where the December issue was being put together, written by many of the regular writers, in-cluding Brian Pape and myself. We both cov-er issues affecting the neighborhood — Brian focusing on architecture and community, and my piece on preserving a rare local public space. For more than a decade, George has provided me a forum to cover a wide range of stories related to the West Village and occa-sionally beyond. These have included report-ing on important Congressional figures speaking at the Great Hall at Cooper Union — Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Adam Schiff. In the middle of the pandemic, Tavern on Jane’s owner Michael Stewart provided me a ground-level view of what it was like trying to survive lockdown and the financial burden that struck when the community could no longer eat in a popular neighborhood restaurant. As we were suffering through the confusion of the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19  with thousands dying every day, George gave me the opportunity to dis-cuss what leadership can be and do. I did so first by remembering Robert Kennedy on the day Martin Luther King was killed, and second, by reviewing Erik Larson’s stunning tale about Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister as Britain was consumed by war. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, my inter-view of Leslie Robertson, the engineer of the original World Trade Center, provided a very personal remembrance of that horrific time. I reviewed plays for the paper, recently at our Cherry Lane Theater — a cultural jewel of the West Village. And in this issue, you can read my reporting on the struggle to save the most remarkable Elizabeth Street Garden. This is what WestView News has meant to me and many other local writers who contin-ue to report on important local events and memories. Our community has benefitted from George’s willingness to create and nurture one of most professional community news-papers I’ve ever seen. And despite personal difficulties and conflicts that have stung some involved, which I’ve seen far too often across my 40  years in publishing, WestView News should be treated with the honor it richly de-serves.

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